It seems to me that there are a lot of people out there who become anxious, insecure and or uncomfortable when they have to talk or perform in front of a group of people. Public speaking must be high on the list of personal stressers for many people.
This anxiety can be used to one’s benefit or make them become paralyzed with fear. With musicians, we try to use this insecurity to our advantage! Some say when this, the most dreaded of all emotions, is lacking before one goes up on stage, you might consider giving it up. By this I mean, some performers believe that if they don’t have butterflies in their stomach or some stress before going on stage their performance won’t be up to par.
I can relate to this topic on some levels. In the past I’ve lost the drive to play guitar and perform live. Actually going up on stage for me is similar to the average person just going to the store, I just don’t get those butterflies in my stomach.
The thing about operating in a public forum that gets me is … will they get into or like what I am playing for them? Will they pay attention to the subtle nuances and examine my guitar technique? Or will they just go, that’s nice. Maybe it’s acceptance that musicians crave for from their audience that makes us crazy.
I take apart everything I want to play into so many sections and perfect, in my mind that is, how they are reproduced and flow from one part of the song to the next. I also have to anticipate how to execute it if say a string breaks in a theatre or bar in the middle of song. I sometimes find that it’s hard to juggle all those issues and bond them together flawlessly into my act without losing my mind in front of an audience while giving the impression that it is all in a days work for a guitarist/performer!
I understand that over the years I’ve lightly touched on this topic before, on most of my other guitar blogs that I have, but I’ve never really been able to answer this question head on. I do think that I may have come across the answer to this question today while glancing through my MACLEAN’s magazine’s BOOKS section by Jonathon Gatehouse (OCT. 12′ 09).
The article was about Margaret Atwood and how she see perceives what her audience gets out of her great body of work. This is the part of the article that caught my attention!
After so many books, she has learned that it is useless to try to point the reader in one direction or the other – they will take away exactly what they want to. “Your not in control of how people read a book. They’re doing their own interpretation.
That’s it! It seems so simple now how she came to this conclusion. It is one of those – “you can’t see the forest through the trees” – kinda thing. My wife thinks that I shouldn’t take an audiences reaction so personally. She says that people are just going out to have a good time and enjoy themselves! I guess she does have a point. Now the hard part is in attempting to incorporate these words of wisdom into my musical mind set!
Sometimes this creeps into my writing style as well. I do not claim to be a wordsmith by any stretch of the imagination but I try. Some people have the ability to express themselves and get their message across and others just wish they had that talent! Most people I talk to say playing an instrument is similar. You may have all the technical knowledge and theory in how to play one but the way you reproduce a song, or the feel for it, is lacking.
So has anyone out there come across a way that helps them overcome their fear of performing or talking in front of people? Or is dealing with this problem just a part of one’s personality trait?
Keep on Jammin’